PDA

View Full Version : New Saltwater Aquarist, lots of questions! :)


KatherineM
12/28/2010, 09:55 AM
I am 16 and a total animal/biology lover. I recently decided to pursue a saltwater tank. I have been doing research daily (thank you Christmas break) for about a week and a half. I have two plans for two diffrent aquariums but only the money to have one of these. of course I would love any and all advice and I am a total newbie. and despite having done mounds of research still feel very clueless to this huge world of saltwater.

plan #1: a 20 gallon tank, lng rather than tall, a mandarin dragonet, a foxface, a midas gobby,cleaner wrasse, no coral, no live rock, no protein skimmer, heater, full spectrm light, powerfilter, and maybe somewhere down the road a bubble tip anemone and a clown fish (not sure what kind yet)

plan#2: (this plan was made when my fiance pointed out that over 300 dollars for plan #1 was a little much sense I cant move a 20 gallon tak to college with me in 2 years) smaller tank (12 gallon?) live rock (havnt decided how much) bubble tip anemone, 2 clowns( not sure what kind) possiable star fish, various corals, and then maybe another fish, like a mandarin dragonet(they are the coolest looking fish ever) or a foxface(m personal favorite)

I wouldnt add the anemone until later, after the tank is a few months old, but can I add an anemone after Ive added clowns and still expect them to host?

I have researched water, light, filters, sand/gravel, fish, thouroughly, its the live rock and corals I dont know much about. any advice? or alternative plans?

something else, as I have been reading around the forums, ive noticed diffren things about substrate. Ive just been looking at generic, small sized gravel for my tank. I think that will work fine, but is gravel diffrent than calcerous rock gravel? or crushed coral? whats best for what im planning?

I personaly want the long, 20 gallon tank, but i also want to be practical. also, I want to get the most I can out of either tank. maybe some corals, a variety of interesting fish, an anemone/clown relationship.

Beaun
12/28/2010, 10:06 AM
Unless you luck out and get a mandarin that eats frozen/prepared food a 20g is too small for one, there is simply not going to be a big enough pod population to support it. Even if it is eating frozen I personally would not risk it in a 20g. Also, a foxface is much too large for a 20g. A pair of clowns with something else small, like a goby, would more than likely work out. The cleaner wrasse is another fish that you are going to want to stay away from. I dont believe I have ever seen one survive in anything under 100+ gallons.

For sand, you want to stay away from crushed coral, most standard reef sands will do just fine. No need to buy the "live sand" that will happen on its own. How deep do you want the sandbed to be?

KatherineM
12/28/2010, 10:12 AM
Im not sure. Maybe, 1 in sand with 1 in gravel on top?

Why would it be to small for a foxface? foxface get about 6in, and I plan about 10 in of water per in of fish, the 20 gallon long tank is 390 sq in of water, is that not enough? how come?

Eric the half-bee
12/28/2010, 10:30 AM
First off, welcome to RC. 2 problems right off the bat. A foxface needs much more room than what you can provide at the moment. A mandarin or crayoned are very challenging fish to keep and needs lots of Copepods/amphipods for food which need a healthy amount of live rock to populate. I recommend more research on mini reef setups

KatherineM
12/28/2010, 10:34 AM
So if I had enough live rock, and then slowly trained for frozen food, would the mandarin work?

What about including a dwarf angel or a less aggresive damsel?

mgoblue
12/28/2010, 10:51 AM
Skip the anenomes, as well, as you will not be able to provide the lighting required. If $300 is too much for your budget, then you are going to be very limited with regards to equipment, which is going to make things more challenging.

Do you have a source for decent RO/DI water, since I assume buying your own unit is out of the question due to budget? Expenses add up quickly in this hobby. If you are going to do it right, then you will need a quarantine tank set up - and that alone is going to run you $100 easy.

I really don't want to rain on your parade, but you may have to put off doing a tank at this time. You are 16, with a fiance, and college coming in a couple years. Taking on a SW tank at this time might not be the wisest choice.

Think about it.

Girly Gears
12/28/2010, 11:10 AM
I have to agree. Been researching now for months and the more I get into this hobby the more I realize just how much dough and time u have to invest. Go to college, get a really good job, a stable place to live and then start your tank. I have spent way more than $300 already on a 20g, even with as much DIY and used equipment as I could get my hands on. Also, research everything to death, join a reef club, talk to people who already have tanks, etc, etc. This forum is great for that! It will really increase your chances of success, not to mention not being a waste of time and money. Plus this way you will really know what you are getting into, the type of setup you want and how to best care for your animals. Take care of the school first, plus you never know if your college room mate will come in one night hammered and barf in your tank! ;) Good Luck!

RedM3
12/28/2010, 11:19 AM
There really isn't any rule relating square inches of water to the size of fish you can keep. You are limited mainly by a combination of swimming area versus how active a fish is. There are tons of threads about this on the forums.

Most 12 gallon tanks are cubes in the neighborhood of 15x15x15 inches. Depending on the species of Foxface, they get 7+ inches. Even for the least active fish, not being able to swim more than one body length isn't nearly enough.

A mandarin is nearly impossible to keep without a larger aquarium and fuge to support high pod growth. Unless you got very lucky with your specimen, it would die before you were able to train it to eat frozen shrimp.

If you are 100% set on a saltwater tank, I'd go with the 12 gallon option if I were you. You'd want to get around 15-20 lbs of live rock and 15-20 lbs of live sand - I don't know offhand if that will give you a sandbed with proper depth, so you'd want to play that one by ear. It will at least get you in the ballpark. For livestock, you'd be limited to a lot less than you think. The dwarf angels are too large. You'd be best off with a goby, a firefish, and a shrimp. Many people suggest a pistol shrimp/goby pair. You might be able to get a second goby or firefish, but that would be your limit.

You definitely also need to make sure you can easily obtain RO/DI water - especially if you plan on keeping corals. Using dechlorinated tap water will lead to constant struggles with water quality and clarity and algae issues.

Unfortunately, this hobby is not inexpensive at all. A 12-gallon nanocube that will have everything you need to get started is around $200 on its own. To buy everything separately would cost you even more, especially if you want to keep corals. To get enough live rock and live sand, you'll be spending another $150 or more. You're already at $350+ and you haven't even got maintenance supplies, testing supplies, salt, food, or any livestock yet!

This probably wasn't what you wanted to hear, but it is best to get all the information so that you can make a reasonable decision. If you are set on an aquarium, consider starting with freshwater. It would be less expensive to get started.

epic.exposures
12/28/2010, 11:24 AM
I am 16 and a total animal/biology lover. I recently decided to pursue a saltwater tank. I have been doing research daily (thank you Christmas break) for about a week and a half. I have two plans for two diffrent aquariums but only the money to have one of these. of course I would love any and all advice and I am a total newbie. and despite having done mounds of research still feel very clueless to this huge world of saltwater.

plan #1: a 20 gallon tank, lng rather than tall, a mandarin dragonet, a foxface, a midas gobby,cleaner wrasse, no coral, no live rock, no protein skimmer, heater, full spectrm light, powerfilter, and maybe somewhere down the road a bubble tip anemone and a clown fish (not sure what kind yet) A 20 gallon tank is not large enough to support a mandarin goby, as mentioned above. A large tank in excess of 60 gallons running for at least 16 months MAY support a mandarin. NO LIVE ROCK?!?!??!! You absolutely need live rock, it is the main biological component of filtration to your aquarium. Without live rock you will experience a very high swing in ammonia and nitrite levels. Thus killing your fish. You do notneed a protein skimmer on a 20 gallon as long as you do a 10% water change weekly and own a high output canister filter. Keeping an anemone is rather difficult for best results you need the tank for 8 months before adding the anemone so it has the biological support, and yes clown fish will pair off with the anemone even after being introduced to the tank.

plan#2: (this plan was made when my fiance pointed out that over 300 dollars for plan #1 was a little much sense I cant move a 20 gallon tak to college with me in 2 years) smaller tank (12 gallon?) live rock (havnt decided how much) bubble tip anemone, 2 clowns( not sure what kind) possiable star fish, various corals, and then maybe another fish, like a mandarin dragonet(they are the coolest looking fish ever) or a foxface(m personal favorite) A foxface can get up to 9 inches long and is a gracefull sometimes darty swimmer. You bring up the point in a reply that the foxface only gets to be 6 inches in length. If this were true than you would be ok with following the fish to ich rule, however in this case a foxface fish needs LOTS of swimming room to live in peace. Foxface, tangs, and other larger varietys **COULD** live in medium tanks but there quality of life would be greatly diminished. In this hobby responsibility is key. You must feel that you are giving your fish a better experience than they wold receive in the ocean. Due to your move in two years, and what appears to be a turbulent lifestyle, I would highly recommend that you put a hold on the hobby untill you settle down and have the devotion you need to care after your creatures. Also 90% of stars eat coral.
I wouldnt add the anemone until later, after the tank is a few months old, but can I add an anemone after Ive added clowns and still expect them to host? Wait for the tank to be 8-10 months old first. And make sure you dont have other delicate inverts in the tank. you will need an anemone that does not grow more than a a couple inches.

I have researched water, light, filters, sand/gravel, fish, thouroughly, its the live rock and corals I dont know much about. any advice? or alternative plans? 1 pund of Live rock per gallon of water, this is your primary source of biological filtration. You need a 10% weekly water change (failure to do so can eventually burn your fishes skin and permanently scar the animal)
something else, as I have been reading around the forums, ive noticed diffren things about substrate. Ive just been looking at generic, small sized gravel for my tank. I think that will work fine, but is gravel diffrent than calcerous rock gravel? or crushed coral? whats best for what im planning? No you need a type of live sand when first setting up your tank. Advanced aquarists may use dy sand but for the beginning aquarist, live sand makes the tank cycle much easier. DO NOT USE COLORFULL FRESHWATER GRAVEL. Coral and live sands are VERY important for keeping your PH balance at 8.3.
I personaly want the long, 20 gallon tank, but i also want to be practical. also, I want to get the most I can out of either tank. maybe some corals, a variety of interesting fish, an anemone/clown relationship. You cant run coral on a full spectrum bulb for a 15 watt kick start, you need a better light choice such as t5, metal halide or even coral growth led systems. All start around 150 dollars.

Angel*Fish
12/28/2010, 11:38 AM
So if I had enough live rock, and then slowly trained for frozen food, would the mandarin work?

What about including a dwarf angel or a less aggresive damsel?You wouldn't have a enough live rock in that size tank, but it it were somehow enough, you wouldn't add this fish for 6-8 mo to a year. Not all mandarins can be trained to take frozen food. But if yours does, feeding time would be a long drawn out process twice a day as they are very slow and methodical about feeding. It's totally different from the way other fish eat. Mandarins are only beginner fish in a 100g tank crammed full of live rock. And even in that situation, tank mate choice is vital.

Dwarf angels need at least 55g tanks. You can find books that say 20g (same for the mandarin) but that should be disregarded.

Angel*Fish
12/28/2010, 11:48 AM
I hate all the negatives you've been getting - there ARE things you CAN do! A pair of high fin gobies with a commensal shrimp makes an interesting display. The shrimp digs their home and they all live together in the hole. (or even one fish and shrimp)

That would work in the 12 gallon.


http://www.ultimatereef.net/uploader/2009Q1/paired_1.JPG

epic.exposures
12/28/2010, 12:03 PM
I hate all the negatives you've been getting - there ARE things you CAN do! A pair of high fin gobies with a commensal shrimp makes an interesting display. The shrimp digs their home and they all live together in the hole. (or even one fish and shrimp)

That would work in the 12 gallon.


http://www.ultimatereef.net/uploader/2009Q1/paired_1.JPG

You could also have a pair of clown fish, an arrow crab, an emerald crab and maybe a nudibranch. Nothing is impossible you just need to work it the right way. I aplogize if I appeared negative in my above post.

Beaun
12/28/2010, 12:21 PM
I agree, go with the all in one style 12g (nanocube) and get a goby, or pair, with a shrimp. It's a good start to get your feet wet.

Kay Tickle
12/28/2010, 12:42 PM
I hate all the negatives you've been getting - there ARE things you CAN do! A pair of high fin gobies with a commensal shrimp makes an interesting display. The shrimp digs their home and they all live together in the hole. (or even one fish and shrimp)

That would work in the 12 gallon.


http://www.ultimatereef.net/uploader/2009Q1/paired_1.JPG

I definitely agree with trying something small. At least you are not jumping in with a 100+ gallon tank. As long as you are responsible and keep researching and asking questions on these forums, you will find what is best for you and your situation. There is no perfect time to jump into this hobby, but make sure you don't overdo yourself. The shrimp/goby pair is AWESOME. I sit and watch mine all evening long.

mgoblue
12/28/2010, 01:08 PM
KatherineM - I wasn't being negative, although it may have sounded that way. But I was being realistic with regards to cost. Everything to do with this hobby is expensive. To go cheaper will mean more work on your part. Are you up for the commitment?

In your own words you said you have been reading and researching this for a week and a half. Be honest with yourself, is this a fad?

Don't take that the wrong way. I don't know you and you don't know me. I don't know your personality, so you may be totally committed to this. It does sound like you have a passion for this, which is what it will take to be successful. But it is not a light commitment and shouldn't be jumped into on a whim. Just know what you are getting yourself into.

You have already gotten really sound advice with regards to livestocking and tank size. There are definitely cool things that can be done with a small tank like a 12g cube. But they are less forgiving, which means it will be important that you have done your homework.

My advice to you is to start setting aside money for the tank. Pick up some extra babysitting, or an odd job here or there and put the money aside for your tank. That will give you time to do more research on what you can do and what you want to do. It will also give you time to make sure you are really committed to this hobby and you really want to spend all that hard earned money on a fish tank.

Then, when you have the money and you are sure you want to do it, then go for it and have fun with it.

12/28/2010, 01:20 PM
I am 16 ... my fiance ...
First, congratulations and good luck. :)

I picked up a JBJ 12 gallon nano tank for $75 last month, added some live rock and a few soft corals. I can still get a pair of clowns in there, though an anemone would outgrow the tank eventually. Between all the rock, coral and little add-ons, plus test kits, etc. I'm still less than $300 by quite a bit. You might try the used route.

As for a 20 Long, it's 30 inches and can fit in most dorms without major problems. If you're married by then, you wouldn't even need to worry about the dorm. A fish only tank, or even a FOWLR tank, could use inexpensive lighting, water changes could make up for no skimmer and you can use an external filter instead of a sump. You could probably still be under $300, especially with used equipment.

Check the Nano tank forums for more on tanks this size.

Jeff

Jabberwock
12/28/2010, 02:00 PM
You *could* buy a tank, box of salt, hydrometer, heater, some argonite sand, a thermometer, a few chunks of live rock, a power head, and a light and maintain that system indefinitely through a rigorous water change schedule.... But I'd recommend keeping only small, hardy fish and inverts starting out.

The fact that you are doing your research ahead of time is a VERY good sign that you are on a path to success though. Every time I read this and other sites I learn something new and important... and I read them almost daily. Ask MANY questions, become addicted to the "Search" button, and take the advice of the people that have been in your shoes and you will do well.

That said, also be prepared to spend some money. This hobby tends to lead to empty pocketbooks.... ;-)

KatherineM
12/28/2010, 02:00 PM
Thanks so much everyone! lol quite the barrage of information and thoughts.

So, I think all my questions have been answered, I have a better perspective on what I will need, I have heard mixed reveiws on live sand, so still not sure about that, definately going to get some live rock to start, and maybe a damsel or a goby just to get used to the tank and the maintenence. Im still kinda thinking around 20 gallons, but maybe going for a 15 would be better? I really want the clown fish/ anemone relationship but obviously I have to wait for a more mature tank, so I will get maybe a goby or two to start, but that would still leave room for future tank mates, I would like some coral, not sure where to buy it though? I live in a tiny town and the nearest and only pet store is a Petco, so does anyone have a good online source for coral/fish/live rock?

Thanks again everyone :)

Jabberwock
12/28/2010, 02:29 PM
I live in a tiny town and the nearest and only pet store is a Petco

I am so very, very sorry. Petco is o.k. to have around for some maintenance items like salt and food.... Basic, non-drilled tanks aren't badly priced (sometimes they do a $1 per gallon sale) and they recently started stocking a few lower priced nice-to-haves such as t5-ho's and starter Reverse Osmosis systems... But that's about it. Unless you luck out and strike gold, no employees there seem to ever know much about keeping saltwater systems. --Please-- promise to research skimmers *before* putting that Seaclone or BioCube Skimmer in your shopping cart.

I've done the bulk of my equipment purchases through my local LFS's that specialize in marine aquariums or Marine Depot/Bulk Reef Supply. Fosters and Smith worked out well for me too. If you are going to order livestock online, be sure that someone will be home to receive it the moment that it arrives (if you live in a colder climate). Also, be sure that you tank has been set up and completed cycling before placing any orders. I've had very good luck with livestock orders from the reputable companies, and that seems to be echoed by many on the forums.

wbdevers
12/28/2010, 03:31 PM
Hi Katherine and welcome. Props on researching before you undertakke this wonderful hobby. You've been given some outstanding advice above and I encourage you to listen to what other have written. A short time back a young lady much like yourself was wanting to get a tank and she too recieved the same advice. Here is the thread link. I would suggest reading this as well for more information with realisitic expectations. Best of luck.

Wes

http://www.reefcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1930571

Angel*Fish
12/28/2010, 05:51 PM
Thanks so much everyone! lol quite the barrage of information and thoughts.

So, I think all my questions have been answered, I have a better perspective on what I will need, I have heard mixed reveiws on live sand, so still not sure about that, definately going to get some live rock to start, and maybe a damsel or a goby just to get used to the tank and the maintenence. Im still kinda thinking around 20 gallons, but maybe going for a 15 would be better? I really want the clown fish/ anemone relationship but obviously I have to wait for a more mature tank, so I will get maybe a goby or two to start, but that would still leave room for future tank mates, I would like some coral, not sure where to buy it though? I live in a tiny town and the nearest and only pet store is a Petco, so does anyone have a good online source for coral/fish/live rock?

Thanks again everyone :)I do not recommend getting a damsel in that size tank. If you do, add it last and get a C. paresema or C. hemicyanea (there are some other choices). There are some damsels that grow huge and even if they don't, will be the terror of the tank.

Others will know what the best choices are, but I believe many have had luck getting percs or oscellaris clowns to use softy corals as a host.

A firefish is a pretty fish that I believe works well for nano tanks.
http://www.aboutfishonline.com/images/firefish.jpg

tspors
12/28/2010, 05:58 PM
I think this person surfaces under different names every so often...
Good Lead In Jeff....

Waco Pilot
12/28/2010, 06:43 PM
You spoke of wanting corals. Something simple like mushrooms or Zoanthids would work fine and are easy IF the lighting is proper. We have a Randall's Goby and a pistol shrimp and they are a hoot to watch. They dig a new hole and the shrimp builds an elaborate entrance each morning only to close it all up at night and rebuild it somewhere else under the rock the following day. Sometimes they do it several times a day. Simple entertainment. Definately go with live rock in your tank whatever size you choose. Good Luck!